Marita Cheng

Marita Cheng

The University of Melbourne/ Imperial College London
London, (International), United Kingdom
Marita Cheng
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Marita is the 2012 Young Australian of the Year. While still a university student, Marita Cheng has demonstrated vision and leadership well beyond her years and is dedicated to encouraging young women to become interested in a career in engineering. The daughter of Chinese parents, Marita was born and raised in far north Queensland and now studies at the University of Melbourne. She founded Robogals Global in 2008, as a response to the traditionally low levels of participation by women in engineering and technology. Robogals uses fun and educational activities to teach schoolgirls about engineering and the difference that engineers make to our lives. Already Robogals has run robotics workshops for 7,000 girls across 80 schools in Australia and now has 17 chapters across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Marita's career path includes studying for a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Computer Science on a Paterson Scholarship. She has a Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship, an International Youth Foundation YouthActionNet Fellowship and an Anita Borg Change Agent Award. A former panellist on ABC TV's New Inventors program, Marita plans to start a robotics company, creating robots that will take care of many everyday and mundane tasks. Already she has changed the way that girls view their capacity to contribute to engineering and technology.

  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Miss Marita Cheng

Yes, you can tell your employers you were sick as a reason for your lower GPA.  Yes, doing more internships will increase your career prospects.  You should definitely try and intern in engineering, or in the field you want to work later, in order to get a sense of what it entails, and whether you really like it.  Interning in fields like marketing when you want to be a mechanical engineer aren't helpful.  Join engineering student clubs if you want to learn marketing skills.



Hi Sura,

If you want to be a great mechatronics engineer, start doing projects outside of your normal class now.  Mechanical engineering - Pull things apart and learn how they work, create your own simple robots from scratch by experimenting with different drive methods.  Electrical engineering - figure out what electrical boards need to go into those systems, then design your own. Software engineering - Practise as much as you can.  Do online tutorials.  Find a project that interests you in any way and get involved. 

Start with a small project.  Then work your way up to bigger projects.  With each project, focus on learning just one new skill.  Then after a few projects, you'll have a few practical skills;  and after several more projects, you'll have several skills! 

Good luck, and happy creating!


Both streams of engineering require collaboration and are friendly to extroverts.  There are so many exciting developments in the computer engineering world at the moment.  I would recommend you jump on that rocket ship - there are so many opportunities in computing right now. 

If you don't plan on working in the field, and your most important factors are scope, job opportunity and money factor, I would say go with electrical and electronics engineering.  Mechatronics gives you a broader range of knowledge across mechanical, electrical and computer systems engineering.  A straight electrical degree gives you access to a much bigger job field - jobs that have existed for much longer than mechatronics jobs have existed for.  Mechatronics is very fun, but given its larger scope, takes longer to become masterful in. 

I'm female and I studied mechatronics engineering and computer science at University from 2007 - 2013.  There were 5 girls in my course, out of 50.  So mechatronics engineering is not only for boys, and girls can do it, too!  In 2008 I founded Robogals.  We go out to schools and teach girls how to build and program robots, to show girls that they can be engineers too.  Robogals has now taught over 17,000 girls robotics workshops and is in Australia, UK, USA and Japan.  Let me know if you would be interested in bringing it to Peru!

Tell them that regardless of what they say, you are going to be an engineer.  You are going to show them that it can be done.  Good luck with your studies!

Kind regards,


Mechatronics engineering is a combination of mechanical, electrical and computer systems engineering. It is useful for understanding all the pieces of technology and how to integrate them to produce a working system. Electrical engineers design new and better electronics. There are many jobs and opportunities in both areas - in engineering, information technology finance, commerce, depending on your interest. The thing that drove me to mechatronics engineering is that I love robots and I want to work with them and build them in the future.

Hi Tierra,

A mechanical engineer uses physics and material science to solve real-world problems, such as working on car engines, rockets and planes; manufacturing plants, and medical devices. Doing computer programming before doing engineering will definitely help, especially in the field of robotics, and anything that requires a system to be programmed. Having a degree in both computer programming and mechanical engineering will definitely give you an edge in the field. The IB is a great program to do if you want to study engineering, as the IB encourages students to think outside of the box, which is something engineers have to do everyday. Engineering is a great field to study, as there are so many opportunities for you to travel around the world, but more importantly, to improve the lives of millions of people. Good luck with your studies!